CJR Questions Reuters Sourcing of Emails Used in Hit Piece

Less than two weeks ago, MDN asked the question, Did Reuters break the law with the latest Chesapeake story? (see this MDN story). We pointed out that the emails used by Reuters were private, and in order for Reuters to take possession of them, someone likely broke the law. None other than the prestigious Columbia Journalism Review is now essentially asking the same question about the source of those emails.

A story on the CJR website analyzes Reuters’ aggressive, almost fanatical obsession with bringing down Chesapeake Energy and its flamboyant CEO Aubrey McClendon. Here’s a brief paragraph from their analysis:

One note on process here: it’s unclear where or how Reuters got hold of these internal emails. It doesn’t say they’re from a lawsuit and they’re not subject to open-records laws. It would have been nice to have some clarity there, but the lack of details probably come from a sourcing agreement. It seems Reuters has one helluva mole at the company. In any case, since Chesapeake hasn’t disputed them, we can assume the emails are legit.*

If an employee, or board member, leaked those emails, they broke the law and should be prosecuted. But nary a word about the illegal source Reuters used in their latest hit piece. And hits keep rolling on…

*Columbia Journalism Review (Jul 5, 2012) – Reuters’s Chesapeake Energy drumbeat